The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) this week announced plans to phase in a province-wide towing program, which will be operational Jan. 1, 2022.
The OPP Tow Program is aimed at enhancing public safety and to help mitigate the increase in criminality in the province’s towing industry, the police force’s website says.
The program includes significant changes to the way the OPP requests services from and interacts with tow and storage service operators (TSSO). It also introduces a list of requirements TSSOs must meet before they can provide tow and storage services for police-requested legislated tows.
These are tows for which police have legislated authority (vehicle impoundment for impaired driving, stunt driving, or evidence). The program also applies to tows requested by OPP officers on behalf of members of the public who need a tow.
Among the new requirements, TSSOs must submit an annual application to provide tow and storage services to the OPP for the calendar year. Applicants will need to provide information relating to ownership, registration, licence, vehicle, equipment, insurance, and other details. A signed release that authorizes the OPP to conduct a criminal history background check will also be required.
Applications must be returned to the local OPP detachment by Nov. 1.
The Ministry of Transportation will be implementing a Tow Zone Pilot on defined sections of 400 series highways within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Towing procedures within these designated zones will be exempt from the OPP Tow Program and will be managed according to the Tow Zone Pilot.
The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) said in a news release that this is the latest in a series of comprehensive steps the province is introducing to address towing issues and further support the trucking industry.
Earlier this year the province announced the creation of a joint-forces police unit to tackle organized crime in the towing industry as well as a tow zone pilot on GTA highways by the Ministry of Transportation. All these initiatives are expected to be up and running before the end of the year. In addition, consultations are underway to revamp the entire oversight and training regime for towing in the province, the OTA said.